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Pyin Oo Lwin residents to protest mining rules

Residents from five townships in Mandalay’s Pyin Oo Lwin district plan to hold a protest against the Myanmar Mine Rules, which they consider weak and not beneficial to the government.

The rules, which were drawn up by the Amyotha Hluttaw Bill Committee, do not include clear punishment of those who violate the rules, and the government get less tax revenue from gold mines, the residents said.

They added the new rules also designate many acres in big blocks, so local residents do not get much benefit from the new regulations.

“It is true that this was written by experts. But, we are living at the nearest place to a mine and we know about the advantages and disadvantages of the new rules, said U Maung Gyi, a resident of Thabeikkyin township during a news conference on Monday in Singu township.

“We want the regulations to be modified. For example, a block can be resold to a foreigner just by using a Myanmar citizen’s name as a figurehead. That’s why the government loses in taxes,” he added.

Residents from Madaya, Singu, Thabeikkyin, Mogok and Pyin Oo Lwin townships who are working for mining businesses will collect signatures to demand that the Pyithu Hluttaw Bill Committee and legislation teams amend the rules, said U San Oo Maung, a protest leader.

“Now, we’ve collected more than 1000 signatures. We’re going to send them to the relevant Hluttaw Speaker and bill committees,” he said. “We protest because of the lack of benefits for locals in these rules. We will protest because we want local residents to benefit from the mining operations in our towns.”

The rules were written and submitted by the Amyotha Hluttaw Bill Committee on February 13 and is open for public comments within 90 days, said U Maung Gyi.

“If we cannot protest against them in the Pyithu Hluttaw, they will be approved,” said U San Oo Maung. He said they are protesting because residents are the owners of natural resources, yet foreign companies are working here and the residents suffer the consequences of environmental damage.

Although some amendments are included in the draft law, no definite guarantees on job opportunities for local people are included, said Pyithu Hluttaw MP U Aung Naing of Thabeikkyin township.

“We have to amend the laws as there are requirements for the amendments. No law is perfect. We read this law and discussed it with resource committee members,” the legislator said.

“Previous small mining blocks have not completed their terms. These small mining blocks cannot be given away. But vacant mining blocks will be. Previous small mining blocks have been reduced in size. We have to discuss these matters face to face. We will work for the good of the region when these matters come up in the Hluttaw.” said U Aung Naing.

“We know the difficulties of our region. Most firms cannot employ local people, so we will tell the government that they cannot fulfill the needs of the region,” he added.

Source : Myanmar Times

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